Splintering amongst the breakaways

We are hearing news of splintering among the various Anglican breakaway groups. The Anglican Mission in America wants to breakaway from the Church of Rwanda, and relations between the Convocation of Anglicans in North America and the Anglican Church of North America have grown chilly.

George Conger reports on his blog:

A chill has descended over relations between the Church of Nigeria and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) in the wake of the creation of a diocese for Nigerians in America by the Church of Nigeria.

While official statements from Archbishop Robert Duncan of the ACNA and Bishop Martyn Minns of CANA – the Church of Nigeria’s American outreach — have been upbeat, sources at the top of the ACNA tell The Church of England Newspaper the situation surrounding the formation of the Diocese of the Trinity has been a “mess”.

Archbishop Duncan is understood to be meeting in the near future with the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, to seek clarification as to why the Nigerian Church believed it necessary to create a race-based diocese in America.

Questions also remain unanswered as to why Nigeria continues to hold on to its American operations after Kenya, West Africa, Uganda and the Southern Cone turned their churches and clergy over to the ACNA.

On 12 October 2011, Bishop Minns released a letter to the CANA clergy announcing the formation of the Diocese of the Trinity. At the September meeting of the General Synod, the Nigerian Church “decided to permit the establishment of dioceses within CANA, under the leadership of the CANA Missionary Bishop, in order to strengthen our missionary focus and provide enhanced support for local clergy and congregations, especially for Nigerian Anglicans living in North America.”

Bishop Minns stated that suffragan Bishop Amos Fagbamiye had been named the diocesan bishop of Trinity Diocese. These actions were “subject to the enactment of necessary canonical provisions within the Church of Nigeria’s constitution and canons and also the relevant by-laws and protocols of CANA,” he added.

Conger says that the Sourhern Cone has turned over its churches to ACNA, which may be because it is hard to sort out these relationships, but the breakaway Fort Worth diocese is arguing in court that they are still part of the Cone as proof that they are still part of the Real Anglican Communion.

Meanwhile, the experiments of "affinity dioceses" where congregations gather with congregations just like them regardless of geography has produced new stresses:

“As the Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Church in North America make provision for affinity dioceses, the creation of the Missionary Diocese of the Trinity can readily be accommodated within the Anglican Church structure,” the Archbishop said.

However, affinity dioceses within ACNA have so far been constructed along doctrinal lines – with non-geographic dioceses for Anglo-Catholics. Until the formation of the Trinity Diocese the only race-based church unit was the Niobrara Sioux mission to American Indians.

A spokesman for CANA said it was a mistake to presume that Trinity Diocese was composed solely of Nigerians. “One of [Bishop] Fagbamiye’s own archdeacons is white: the Ven John Beasley. I think he also has some non-Nigerian clergy on staff at his church in Indianapolis,” said Harry Zeiders of CANA.

One ACNA leader who declined to be named as he was not authorised to speak on its behalf said the creation of the Trinity Diocese had come as an unwelcome surprise. It was a retrograde step, in his opinion, for the Church of Nigeria to be creating new structures in North America on its own initiative after it had already committed itself to support the ministry of ACNA, he said.

It evidenced a lack of “trust” in ACNA, he said.

The Church of Nigeria apparently has other trust issues. They have said that they wish to set up congregations in the United Kingdom, having ordained people to the task, because they can't trust the Church of England to minister to Nigerians, either.

Meanwhile, another group set up to link North American culture wars with African Christianity is having trouble holding together. The blog "A Living Text" describes the fracturing of the relationship between AMiA and their Rwandan patron:

Well, that didn’t take long. I have been reading the tea leaves about the trajectory of AMiA for a few years now, most recently with the last issue of Wave. Now, Anglican Unscripted reports that AMiA is cracking up over women’s ordination and Bishop Murphy’s apparent desire to rule as he sees fit. The video is below:

Essentially, the report says that there is some discord between the Church of Rwanda and AMiA, and that they are coming to terms of separation. Bishop murphy wants to support women’s ordination (surprise, surprise) and appoint his own bishops without Rwanda being able to nix his appointments. The AMiA will pull out from Rwandan oversight and is seeking another Primate from another Global South church or Archbishop Kolini or some other option.

The video asks if AMiA all of the sudden doesn’t have an Archbishop sponsoring them what happens to them? They speculate that Chuck Murphy will keep some of them together and maybe they will come under ACNA. They also report discord among the bishops of AMiA. Some orthodox bishops want to leave AMiA and head to ACNA to maintain no women’s ordination.

So, Bishop Murphy can’t seem to stand oversight. If he wants women’s ordination so much, why doesn’t he simply merge into ACNA as it is? Well, that would mean breaking up the fiefdom right? And shame on Archbishop Kolini for supporting such nonsense. I confess I thought that women’s ordination wouldn’t mess up ACNA for another ten years or so, but it appears to be happening already. There is now a crying need for a diocese or two within ACNA that is totally opposed to women’s ordination. Anything less will produce further splits and the end of ACNA.

Apparently, AMiA leadership Download file">don't see a viable future linked to Rwanda but want to be on their own.


Comments (7)

But I thought once they broke away from us heretics everything would be better?

Eric

I've always said to my wife that hatred of one particular demographic group is no reason for the creation of a new church.

Morris Post

Too many bishops?

The first breakaway makes the next breakaway easier?

Who knows?

June Butler

Is anybody really surprised? Can you build a church on "angry those guys"?

Lord, help me repent of/forgive me for my Schadenfreude...

...but not yet, not yet. ;-p

JC Fisher

Dead wood splinters.
Katie Sherrod
Fort Worth, TX

Splitters gotta split!

The Rev. Michael Dresbach

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